Executive urged to follow Irish Government by bringing forward reopening dates for all hospitality and retail businesses
BUSINESS groups have said the Executive must follow the example of Dublin by urgently bringing forward reopening dates for all retail and hospitality businesses.
It means hotels, B&Bs, caravan parks, galleries and museums can reopen from June 29.
Restaurants, cafes and pubs that serve food can also reopen from June 29. Other pubs may have to wait until July 20. Shopping centres are also set to reopen from June 15.
Some non-food retailers are set to reopen across Northern Ireland on Monday. But hotels must wait until July 20, while no date has been provided for pubs and restaurants.
In a joint statement, Hospitality Ulster and Belfast Chamber called on the Executive to bring forward its plans to reopen retail and hospitality businesses in the north. They have also called for a review of the two-metre social distancing rule.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds has already said a one-metre rule will make it more viable for restaurants and hotels to operate. It’s understood the DUP minister will call on the Executive to accelerate plans to reopen the economy when it meets on Monday.
The latest figures on the Department of Health’s interactive dashboard showed just three new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday.
In a joint statement on Friday, Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill and Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton said: “With the government in the Irish Republic announcing that it is bringing forward its dates for when retail and hospitality can reopen, the Northern Ireland Executive urgently needs to follow suit.
“Our local retail and hospitality sectors have now had their doors shut for nearly three months to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with costs still rising and no income in their tills.
“They are actively planning and preparing to reopen in ways that ensure staff and customer safety. All they now need is a date from the Executive when they are permitted to do so.
“The Irish Government are allowing retail and hospitality businesses to reopen ahead of the original schedule. Northern Ireland retail and hospitality businesses need the same certainty from Stormont.
“It is ridiculous that in a few weeks’ time you’ll be able to eat a meal in a pub or buy a pair of shoes in Ballina but not in Belfast.
“We are demanding that Stormont don’t let our retail and hospitality sectors fall behind. Our sectors need sufficient notice so that they can reactivate their supply chains and make all the necessary preparations to reopen safely.
“Hospitality Ulster and Belfast Chamber urge the Executive to replicate what is happening in Ireland and also in England give our retail and hospitality sectors some hope and something to work towards by both setting dates when they can reopen and also review the two metre social distancing rule which the Irish are also now doing.”